Below is a sample – all too representative – of quotes by Democrats and bills supported/introduced by Democrats relating to Israel, in particular its aggression against Lebanon last year and the ongoing occupation of the Palestinians, compared with reports and quotes by reputable witnesses and human rights NGOs describing the reality on the ground.
The Democrats’ views of the conflicts are written in italics. The reality is presented in plain text.
Compare and contrast.
“We must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs.”
“Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation…A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world.”
“As Americans we are humbled by Israel’s commitment to civic engagement and open debate, free expression and the rule of law, even in the face of grave dangers.”
“The Shin Bet security service will thwart the activity of any group or individual seeking to harm the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel, even if such activity is sanctioned by the law”.
“Until and unless Hamas renounces violence and terror, and abandons its position calling for the destruction of Israel, I don’t believe the United States should recognize Hamas, nor should any nation in the world.”
‘Israeli forces carried out frequent air and artillery bombardments against the Gaza Strip [in 2006], often into densely populated refugee camps and residential areas. Some 650 Palestinians, half of them unarmed civilians and including some 120 children, were killed by Israeli forces. This toll was a threefold increase compared with 2005.’
“Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons…The Iranian president’s statements such as his description of the Holocaust as a myth and his goals to wipe Israel off the map indicate that Iran is serious about its threats…Once Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel’s neighborhood much more volatile…To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table.”
“While, feeling under threat from Iran and others, Israel is not likely to discard its nuclear-weapon capability except as part of a peace settlement, it could help to reduce tension, as is now asked of Iran, by joining Iran and all other states in the region in a commitment to suspend and renounce any fuel-cycle activities…We assume Israel has 200 nuclear warheads. Stop the work in Dimona…The best way to guarantee security is a WMD free zone.”
“Today, instead of an economy, the Palestinians have a tin cup…Yet who do they blame? The United States, Bush, Olmert, Abu Mazen, the P.A., the Arabs, the Quartet, the weather, the New York Yankees — anyone and everyone except Hamas.”
“[If the boycott is ended, the Palestinians] will offer a promise from Hamas and Fatah of a total cease-fire with Israel, including a complete halt to Qassam [rocket] fire and suicide bombings”
– Hamas (Israel rejected the offer)
“I stand firmly with the people of Israel and their government as they defend themselves against these outrageous attacks. The kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and missile attacks against Israeli citizens are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”
“Since the abduction of Gilad Shalit, and more so since the outbreak of the Lebanon war, the Israel Defense Forces has been rampaging through Gaza — there’s no other word to describe it — killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately…In the last two months, Israel killed 224 Palestinians, 62 of them children and 25 of them women. It bombed and assassinated, destroyed and shelled, and no one stopped it. No Qassam cell or smuggling tunnel justifies such wide-scale killing. A day doesn’t go by without deaths, most of them innocent civilians.”
‘Resolved, That the Senate–<>
(1) reaffirms its steadfast support for the State of Israel;
(2) supports Israel’s right of self-defense and Israel’s right to take appropriate action to deter aggression by terrorist groups and their state sponsors;
(3) urges the President to continue fully supporting Israel as Israel exercises its right of self-defense in Lebanon and Gaza;
(4) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli soldiers who are being held captive by Hezbollah or Hamas;
(5) condemns the Governments of Iran and Syria for their continued support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and holds the Governments of Syria and Iran responsible for the acts of aggression carried out by Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel;
(6) condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for exploiting civilian populations as shields and locating their military activities in civilian areas;
(7) urges the President to use all available political and diplomatic means, including sanctions, to persuade the governments of Syria and Iran to end their support of Hezbollah and Hamas;
(8) calls on the Government of Lebanon to do everything in its power to find and free the kidnapped Israeli soldiers being held in its territory, and to fulfill its responsibility under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (adopted September 2, 2004) to disband and disarm Hezbollah;
(9) calls on the United Nations Security Council to condemn these unprovoked acts and to demand compliance with Resolution 1559, which requires that Hezbollah and other militias be disbanded and disarmed, and that all foreign forces be withdrawn from Lebanon;
(10) urges all sides to protect innocent civilian life and infrastructure and strongly supports the use of all diplomatic means available to free the captured Israeli soldiers; and
(11) recognizes that thousands of American nationals reside peacefully in Lebanon, and that those American nationals in Lebanon concerned for their safety should receive the full support and assistance of the United States government.’
‘Israeli forces pounded buildings into the ground, reducing entire neighbourhoods to rubble and turning villages and towns into ghost town, as their inhabitants fled the bombardments. Main roads, bridges and petrol stations were blown to bits. Entire families were killed in air strikes on their homes or in their vehicles while fleeing the aerial assaults on their villages. Scores lay buried beneath the rubble of their houses for weeks, as the Red Cross and other rescue workers were prevented from accessing the areas by continuing Israeli strikes. The hundreds of thousands of Lebanese who fled the bombardment now face the danger of unexploded munitions as they head home…The Lebanese government estimates 31 “vital points”, for example water and sewage treatment plants, power stations, airports etc., have been totally or partially destroyed. More than 25 fuel station and 900 commercial enterprises were hit. The number of residential properties, offices and shops completely destroyed exceeds 30,000. Two government hospitals – in Bint Jbiel and Mais al-Jebel – were completely destroyed in Israeli attacks and three others were seriously damaged…
The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy, rather than “collateral damage”‘. [my emphasis]
– Amnesty International, on the other hand, did.
‘Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
(1) reaffirms its steadfast support for the State of Israel;
(2) condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for engaging in unprovoked and reprehensible armed attacks against Israel on undisputed Israeli territory, for taking hostages, for killing Israeli soldiers, and for continuing to indiscriminately target Israeli civilian populations with their rockets and missiles;
(3) further condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for cynically exploiting civilian populations as shields, locating their equipment and bases of operation, including their rockets and other armaments, amidst civilian populations, including in homes and mosques;
(4) recognizes Israel’s longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss and welcomes Israel’s continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties;
(5) demands the Governments of Iran and Syria to direct Hamas and Hezbollah to immediately and unconditionally release Israeli soldiers which they hold captive;
(6) affirms that all governments that have provided continued support to Hamas or Hezbollah share responsibility for the hostage-taking and attacks against Israel and, as such, should be held accountable for their actions;
(7) condemns the Governments of Iran and Syria for their continued support for Hezbollah and Hamas in their armed attacks against Israelis and their other terrorist activities;
(8) supports Israel’s right to take appropriate action to defend itself, including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it, which is in accordance with international law, including Article 51 of the United Nations Charter;
(9) commends the President of the United States for fully supporting Israel as it responds to these armed attacks by terrorist organizations and their state sponsors;
(10) urges the President of the United States to bring the full force of political, diplomatic, and economic sanctions available to the Government of the United States against the Governments of Syria and Iran;
(11) demands the Government of Lebanon to do everything in its power to find and free the kidnapped Israeli soldiers being held in the territory of Lebanon;
(12) calls on the United Nations Security Council to condemn these unprovoked acts and to take action to ensure full and immediate implementation of United Nations Security Council 1559 (2004), which requires Hezbollah to be dismantled and the departure of all Syrian personnel and Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon;
(13) expresses its condolences to all families of innocent victims of recent violence; and
(14) declares its continued commitment to working with Israel and other United States allies in combating terrorism worldwide.’
“In the 34-day war which broke out on 12 July, after Hizbullah’s military wing crossed into Israel and attacked an Israeli patrol, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two others. Israeli forces carried out air and artillery bombardments, killing nearly 1,200 people in Lebanon, including hundreds of children. Israeli forces also destroyed tens of thousands of homes and commercial properties, mostly in south Lebanon and in the suburbs of Beirut; and targeted and damaged main roads and bridges throughout the country. Hizbullah missiles fired into Israel caused the deaths of 43 civilians and damaged hundreds of buildings.
In the course of the conflict Israeli forces committed serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes. In particular, Israeli forces carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on a large scale. Israeli forces also appear to have carried out direct attacks on civilian infrastructure intended to inflict a form of collective punishment on Lebanon’s people, in order to induce them and the Lebanese government to turn against Hizbullah, as well as to cause harm to Hizbullah’s military capability…
In the final days of the war, after the terms of the ceasefire had been agreed, Israeli forces launched hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs containing up to 4 million bomblets into south Lebanon. The million or so unexploded bomblets that were left continued to kill and maim civilians long after the end of the war. Some 200 people, including tens of children, had been killed or injured by these bomblets and newly laid mines by the end of the year. Despite repeated requests, Israel did not provide detailed maps of the exact locations where its forces launched cluster bombs to the UN bodies mandated to clear unexploded ordnance.” [my emphasis]
“We will support [Israel’s] efforts to send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians, to the Iranians, to all who seek death and domination instead of life and freedom”
– Sen. Hillary Clinton, speaking at a rally in New York City in July, 2006.
“In Lebanon, we covered entire villages with cluster bombs, what we did there was crazy and monstrous”.
– An IDF commander, describing exactly how Israel delivered its “message” to Hizbullah.
‘Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–
(2) congratulates the residents of Jerusalem and the people of Israel on the 40th anniversary of the reunification of that historic city;
(4) commends Israel for its administration of the undivided city of Jerusalem for the past 40 years, during which Israel has respected the rights of all religious groups;’
– Excerpt from a bill recently introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.).
‘Confirms in the clearest possible terms that all legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of the City of Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties, transfer of populations and legislation aimed at the incorporation of the occupied section, are totally invalid and cannot change that status’.
– UN Security Council Resolution 298, cited in the July 2004 World Court advisory opinion, which ruled that, “[a]ll these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power.”
And so on and so on. Even as everyone from the Red Cross and B’Tselem to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN have documented Israeli war crimes and systematic violations of international humanitarian law in detail, the Israeli state has enjoyed virtually unqualified bipartisan support in the U.S. Unfortunately, this looks set to continue, despite the ongoing collective punishment and ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories.
This amounts to support for and complicity in war crimes. The Democrats must end their support for Israeli oppression and brutality, and bring their policies back in line with the law. No party with a record of advocation of state terrorism and gross human rights abuses as consistent and sustained as that detailed above can legitimately call itself “progressive” – or, indeed, anything other than morally barbaric. A change in Israel’s behaviour is going to have to be brought about from the outside, and realistically that means from the U.S. It is therefore imperative that the Democrats progress beyond the current unconditional cheerleading for Israel, which will only lead to yet more unnecessary suffering.
Cross-posted at The Heathlander